tv Former Vice President Joe Biden Receives Congressional Patriot Award CSPAN March 1, 2017 7:29pm-8:22pm EST
[inaudible conversations] ladies and gentlemen please welcome to the stage robert. >> good evening everyone. how is everyone doing? [applause] i can't hear you. [applause] >> i can't hear you. my name is robert and i'm a proud staff of the bipartisan policy center. my job is to do this. that is my job tonight. my job is to do this. so when i do this, please do
what you just did so thank you very much. a few moments we have a very special guest is coming out the former vice president of united states joe biden. [applause] along with vice president we have a proud president jason romain. yes, louder. and along with jason romain senator bob dole republican from kansas. they will also have tom daschle democrat from south dakota. and george mitchell also democrat from maine. nevertheless this is a very very special moment for us so i would please ask that all of you please silence your cell phones and if you wouldn't mind when the gentlemen come up to the stage if you wouldn't mind doing this. thank you very much.
and of course i just forgot to introduce my boss. so nevertheless i'm very proud to chase the founding president of the bipartisan policy committee and that is jason romain. i'm very nervous tonight, i don't know why. [applause] >> we will let our gang a symbol for just a moment. [inaudible conversations]
>> good evening again everybody. the this is a really proud moment for me personally and to the bipartisan policy center. 10 years ago we founded the bipartisan policy center with the leadership of tom daschle, bob dole, george mitchell and howard baker. just saying those four names gives me a really deep sense of pride and a real confidence in the strength of our democracy because from the beginning the bipartisan policy center has been animated by a few core ideas that america's inspiration flows from our nations on parallel political and cultural diversity that our nation's political stability and resilience depend on engaging and dignifying your differences and finally that politics like
all productive human interaction is about the integrity of ideas, personal connection and trust. 10 years later these ideas still guide our work. it is fair to say that as proud progressives and staunch conservatives we have a vibrant intellectual culture at the bbc. when you come to the bipartisan policy center nothing is checked at the door. instead we ask our staff and the hundreds of people involved in our negotiations to bring their politics, their personal commitments their economic interests all to the table. the only catch is that they will spending -- be spending the next 10 years with 20 other people who received the same invitation. now we are all too aware that the warmth and affection the camaraderie and is very windy room is not widely shared in our
government. among many of our fellow citizens but it is gratifying to be in a room of a thousand productive partisans who more than anything i think shared commitment to make our nations succeed. the bipartisan policy center is all talk and all action. we did not have the hubris to hit print and think by a great genius we have a meaningful impact on the national policy so with the support of righteous and registered lobbyists are partners of the bipartisan policy center action employed all of the tactical sophistication and aggression of a trade association to turn these ideas into outcomes. things have been tough out there for the senator coons noted the u.s. congress passed a bunch of significant laws last round and
we are proud to have contributed several of them. like to. like a played a role in legislation that accelerates the development of lifesaving medical treatment there removes arbitrary barriers from exporting u.s. oil legislation that modernizes the regulation of toxic chemicals legislation the strength and medicare legislation that extended the children's health insurance program. we are proud of these accomplishments but we are of course aware that our government failed to often achieve too little. things have changed quite a bit in the last three months. the mood in washington has shifted from what i think of as predictable gridlock to sprawling uncertainty. [laughter] tuscon president trump's disinterest in governing traditions sometimes divisive rhetoric and sometimes malleable facts are deeply unsettling. to others, president trump's authenticity, his rejection of
tired rules and his populist agenda speak to the very real alienation that many feel from her process that has failed to meet their needs or validate their struggles. so we come together at a moment when passion is high. it's not an easy moment for a principled dialog and bipartisan collaboration. there is one thing for sure. now is not the time to leave the arena or to seek the comfort of rigidity. to go highbrow on you for a moment and paraphrase bull tear down is not a condition that certainly is an absurd one. so tonight i want to thank our founders and i want to thank our board of directors, our project leaders, are truly fabulous staff loyal funders everyone else in the bbc family. i want to ask you to join us in redoubling our commitment to the hard uncertain and uncomfortable
work of american democracy to the bipartisan policy center is committed to helping congress and the administration in this country succeed and we surely need your help. it is really now my great pleasure to introduce one of our founders former senate majority leader george mitchell to kick off our patriot award presentation. if there was ever an example or for principled pragmatic and productive partisan it is george mitchell. senator. [applause] >> thank you very much jason for your kind words and your outstanding leadership of the bipartisan policy center over the past decade. it is a real pleasure for me to be here along with bob dole and
tom daschle who joined me and howard baker in creating this organization 10 years ago. in that regard might i ask that we all reflect for a moment on howard baker who of course is no longer with us but who was a truly great senator, a great leader and most of all one of the finest human beings i have ever known in or out of politics. all of us who founded the bipartisan policy center are proud of the organization, proud of their remarkable progress that's been made over the past decade. the bbc is a testament to how solutions to public policy issues can be forged through
credible analysis and our reliance on facts and a deliberate respectable process. so this is a special moment for me, all the more so as i have the opportunity and the honor to join with bob dole in introducing vice president joe biden. [applause] a true leader, a giant in the legislative history of the senate who brought his special personal and unique brand of candor, collaboration and commitment to the legislative and executive branches of our government. as jason has said the bipartisan policy center established the
congressional patriot award to recognize leaders who while they are partisans as democrats or republicans are wise enough to always put americans first. these are people who proudly embrace their party's principles and approach to the issues and to governing but who are ready and willing to transcend political differences when they judge it to be in the best interest of the nation. these are the leaders of lawmakers who have throughout their tenure in public office demonstrated the capacity to guide and lead our nation toward a common purpose. they speak not only to the highest aspirations of our people but also to the strength and endurance of the
institutions that serve our democracy. vice president joe biden is indisputably one of those individuals and one of those leaders. [applause] over more than four decades he served as a united states senator and his vice president of the united states. his political courage enabled him to overcome differences and helps to govern a diverse nation often during deeply partisan times. joe biden is a negotiator. he is a dealmaker. he is in the highest meaning of the word a legislator. with the legislative record that is surpassed by very few if any
of the nearly 2000 men and women who sit -- serve in the united states senate since our nations founding. this is the joe biden i've had the great privilege of knowing, working with and calling it clears -- a close and dear friend. i'm proud to join bob dole in presenting this congressional patriot award to vice president joe biden. and i would like now to say just a word about senator dole who will join me, will say a few words before joe receives the award in response. i want to tell two stories about senator dole, one serious and one not so serious. on the day that i was elected senate majority leader the first person i called was bob dole who
was then the republican leader. i asked if i could come to see him. he agreed. i walked a few steps down the senate corridor to bob's office. i said to him that he had been in the congress for more than a quarter-century. i had been there for just a few years so he knew more about the senate in his little finger than i will ever know. i have been in the senate long enough to know that the senate is a very difficult place to manage and if there is not trust between the leaders in my judgment impossible to manage effectively. i have come here to tell you i intend to behave towards you to ask if you will behave in the same way toward me. i set forth the most basic and fundamental principles of fair
play openness and decency. bob was delighted. we shook hands and not once ever to this moment has a harsh word ever passed between bob dole and me in public or in private. [applause] we disagreed often. we negotiated vigorously almost every working day. when we couldn't reach agreement which was frequent, we let the senate decide the issue. and while we stood in the senate and debated strongly and vigorously our opposing points of view we never made it personal. i believe that the proper way to
conduct business in the senate and in our democracy and i'm deeply grateful to bob dole for treating me and that manner during the six years that we serve as leaders together. [applause] i was rewarded for that in many ways. now i will tell you the second story. after i retired from the senate i joined a law firm. they gave me not have been a fairly small office, no staff. a couple of years later bob decided to join the law firm so the firm encouraged me to talk to him. he came and they gave him an entire floor in the office building. six separate offices in addition to his palatial corner office overlooking the park. that bothered me. [laughter] but what really bothered me was
he had a separate office for his dog. [laughter] known as the leader and his dog's office was bigger than mine. and so at a firm meeting i complained about this. bob dole's response was, that dog has been a leader long before you were a leader. [laughter] i learned then never to challenge bob dole. ladies and gentlemen my dear friend, joe biden's dear friend a great american national leader, bob dole. [applause] >> i'm happy that my client came out to see me.
i enjoyed do you too that i also know the former senator from maine is in the audience and trent lott somewhere out there, former leader. he had to clean up the mess after i left. george and i are honored to even be on the same platform and i asked joe how should i call you? he said call me joe. i didn't know whether vice president or candidate for 2020. [applause] i got a call from president trump were before it left. he said don't say too many good things about biden. he may run against me later on. but joe biden is a special guy
as senator mitchell has already pointed out. george mitchell and i and tom daschle, we are all great friends and a thing that george said that i want to underscore, once you trust one another and their people in this audience who hopefully trust one another in a relationship and once you trust somebody i can go to george and save george if i can get my guys to go this way a little can you get yours to come this way a little? he would check out it would come back and many times we found a compromise. the one thing we didn't do was read about it in the morning paper. because we had just trust and we really respected each other and we knew that what we told each other was private.
we got a lot done and i see a little of that creeping up out of the congress and i hope it continues to grow. george mitchell, he and tom daschle and robert byrd, i remember robert byrd saying i'm not sure if i can work with you. you are too partisan. they said robert they don't elect nonpartisan leaders. 30 days later he came around and said okay we will get along fine. i must say working with robert byrd and george mitchell and tom daschle, three wonderful men who had integrity to the bone. we understood each other and george said when we couldn't agree we just had to vote.
sometimes we had filibusters. he generally prevailed but we had filibusters and we did have our differences. but we never went out and told the press that i think george mitchell is -- and he never did that either. we would settle her differences in his office or mine and if we couldn't settle them -- i want to say that about my friend george mitchell. said a lot of nice things about my book in his book about me. i still owe you one favor. [applause] [laughter] but anyway it's a great look. you ought to read it. first you have to buy it. george and i would be honored if our dear friend joe biden.
i remember going to joe one time when he was chairman of the judiciary i think it was. no, it wasn't. he said no more nominations. we are not going to approve any more judges this year. i said joe, i've got this wonderful lady in kansas who would be a great district judge and he said well let me think about it but i are to give my word. well, we can do it after hours. [laughter] most people have fallen asleep or gone home but he came back the next day and he said you are my friend, i'm going to do it and we did it. that is only one example of this
man. george could recite many more than i can. i remember when i left the senate in 1996, can't remember anymore why i left. [laughter] but i left the senate and on the way out joe was at the leader's desk on the democratic side and he handed me a little note. the little note said good look, bob. i knew joe wasn't going to go out and campaign for me but i also knew he wasn't going to go out and badmouth me either. i am proud to say in the eight years joe has been vice president of the united states i have never uttered an unkind word about he or president obama. i figured to care what i have to say anyway and secondly they were elected and they were entitled to our respect and joe
has certainly demonstrated how much he deserves this award tonight. he has had his ups and downs and tragedies. he suffered to read all. he is our friend. i don't know anybody who's ever been mad at joe biden. [laughter] were you, george? >> no. [laughter] we might have been a little tense every now and then but nothing serious. joe i'm very proud to be a part of this team to present you with the patriot award for all you have done for america. we can be democrats, republicans or independents and protesters. [laughter]
>> i'm honored to be here tonight and i don't say that lightly. those of you who know the most meaningful complements, rewards or nice gestures that you receive me the most when they come from people who really know you and they still are prepared. i really mean it, think about it i measure the value of an award by how much i value the people giving the award and the men who were mentioned tonight from howard baker, who i had the great honor of doing his eulogy, one of several people, to tom daschle who has been my friend since he came to the senate. george mitchell who was someone i have gone to for vice off into bob dole who when i got there
was a 29-year-old kid in 1972 was there to extend a welcome to me. you know, president obama always kitted me from the outset because i once said as presumptuous of me to try to improve on anything tip o'neill has ever said when he said all politics is local, i think he was partially right. in my view, in my view all politics is personal. i mean that sincerely. it's personal. it matters that you understand and know the other person. it matters even with foreign leaders whom you have nothing in common that you at least get to the point were you understand what their needs are and limits are and whether or not you can
trust what they say. because anyone who has worked upon the hill and many of you have, who have served on the hill, know that it is your word. the court of the realm is whether or not you can be trusted to do what you say you will do. when i first got to the senate for the first two decades there were an awful lot of men and not enough women but women were changing that. [applause] who would give you their word as to what they would do and when circumstances changed that it would make it more difficult for them to do it they still stepped forward and did it anyway. and then we started to see, at least i did, in the 90s and
thereabouts people with promise you what they are going to do and you would work out something and then say i'm sorry, my circumstances have changed. i can no longer do that. these men and women including olympia snowe who was here and their former secretary of agriculture, never never did that. there is a second thing that they have never done. the lesson i learned from mike mansfield. when i first got to the senate i didn't want to be there and senator mansfield and kennedy and the fella named pasteur who you may not remember from the state of rhode island and fritz hollings and later the senator from ohio sex be one the funniest guys i've ever worked with, they all came to see me and said come and serve for six months. i really thought they needed me just to stay for six months.
georgie heard me say this before but i used to go to his office every tuesday at 3:00 and i would get an assignment and i really thought as a kid all senator scott assignments. i really did. i know that's naïve but i'm the first senator i ever knew. [laughter] but i really did. it took me until about the beginning of may to realize he was just taking my pulse to see how i was doing. one day i was walking across the floor down to the well to find out when the last would be to get on the train to go home to delaware and jesse helms was a dare excoriating you lob and ted kennedy for precursor for the americans with disabilities act talking about how we had no obligation than i thought it was heartless. thank goodness although i never had a temper as you know thank goodness i went in and sat in front of him and he spoke in
the the the .... .... >> from that moment on, i and the men i am talking about never questioned a man's motive. once you question the motive, you cannot get to go or a place where you can reach an agreement. our politics, as the reason the center was setup and jason you are doing a heck of a job, has become too negative, too petty, too personal, and yes, too partisan. compromise has literally become a dirty word. we don't just question their judgment and disagree but we question their motivation. if you don't agree you are in the pocket of somebody, our you are being bought off or you are not a good person if you don't
agree with me. we don't know each other anymore. it is hard to dislike a woman or man on the other side when you understand their problems. you realize they may have a son or daughter with a serious health problem, or wife or husband with breast or colon cancer, whether they have struggles at home. it is hard. it is hard not to understand them. we used to travel together. i went out with guys up in the senate dining room, the private one, the tables are not there anymore. we used to sit down and eat lunch privately. it is gone. no one is there anymore, george. i went in to see if i could catch up with my old and newer colleagues there is lounge chairs in there but no tables. there used to be two big tables. so, folks, i guess the point i
want to make is this and you have been standing too long unlike any other nation in the world we are uniquely a product of our institutions. you cannot define an american by their ethnicity, race, religion or the culture which they come. you cannot do it. it is not possible. you can't even define an american anymore and we will not be able to shortly as a predominantly white, european stock nation. what holds this nation together and always has has been an intuitive expressed commitment to the constitution, to our institutions, our institutions are what have held us together; a belief they can deliver. what worries me the most and i never thought i would have to
make this speech, or want to make this speech, but the almost drumbeat of denigration of the institutional structures that govern us is dangerous. when you delegitimize the court you delegitimize the legislative body and it it makes it impossible to reach compromise. we are a diverse and great nation and in order for this democracy to function we have to remember it requires consensus at the end of the day. without consensus, we have chaos. it is not just joe biden saying this. it is an our constitution. we have to remind ourselves how important this document is and i am not trying to be professor joe biden and talk constitutional law.
i am talking about the essence of what it is. it is that we really do believe all men and women are created equal. that is the deal. we really do think that there should be separation of powers without knowing the doctrine of separation of powers. we know the court has the right to overrule a congress or president when it it rules. it should be adhered to after the appeals are had. we know, we know because we have been through constitutional crisis together including impeachments and other things happening since 1973 when i got the. we know we have to check the power of presidents. the legislature and congress is as important. they used to kid me in the white house. i was the only guy who actually
thought there was a congress and that it mattered. you think i am joking. but there is a tendency today to nod as we look over the thhisto and time. the story of our american institutions is that they have always sustained the crisis. when we lift these institutions up, we derive strength from it. it is the basis upon we can make the compromise. when we tear them down we do it at our own peril. i must say these beliefs are so basic and fundamental that i think average americans fully get it and understand it. when we lose confidence in this nation of laws and not man and that courts make a difference and they are the ultimate arbiter things begin to crack.
ladies and gentlemen, i am somewhat saddened that this is the first time i have made this speech to such a distinguished audience. i stand in this room and building and i cannot help say there is another institution. the fourth estate and free press that if we undermine we do it at our own parrel -- peril. let me say something -- [applause] >> i have taken my fair share of hits from the press being covered by the very best and some of the worst. some of you press guys are lousy just like some senators are lousy, doctors are lousy, lawyers are lousy. but it doesn't matter. we should never challenge the basic truth that an independent and free press is the fundamental element in functions of our democracy. i know you hear a lot quoted
about thomas jefferson these days and how he argued with the press. let me remind you what thomas jefferson said. he said if it was left to me to decide a government without newspap newspapers or newspapers without government i would argue the latter. that doesn't mean we have not have run-ins with the press and thought they were being unfair. but to question the actual legitmacy of a free press is one of the most dangerous things out. the idea we denigrate our institutions, i think we honest to god, weaken our ability for self-government. we understand our democracy and we undermine and become weak and not stronger. don't just take my word for it. admiral mccraven who you know i worked with closely particularly
during the bin laden raid. this is a true patriot. this isn't a left-leaning liberal whatever you want to characterize him as. he is a patriot. president obama risked his entire year on trusting his judgment about osama bin laden. he had last week that the belief the newspaper is the enemy of the american people quote may be the greatest threat to democracy in my life time. ask yawn ask john mccain and finally in this building are
there othe the the the the the and the the the the the the the the the the the the >> folks, this may be the first time in my career that i said i thought it was important to make a speech. but i have, we all have bipartisan responsibilities to this nation to defend principles that have long made america the beacon of hope and as ronald reagan said the shining city on the hill. to protect the institutions that made it possible for these principles to be sustained. we are all respected around the world as i said many times and been criticized for saying not necessarily for the example of our power but the power of our example. that is why the rest of the world repairs through the united states. that is the place we get the gravity of our legit.
ladies and gentlemen, as recent experiences made clear, there is nothing guaranteed about democracy and several-governing even after 240 years. there is nothing that guarantees we will remain the greatest power in the world. nothing is guaranteed about any of that. every generation has to earn it. we have been used to patriots like bob dole offering and giving his life. it is automatic and going to keep happening.
folks, read your history, there is nothing guaranteed. just like every question before us, every generation has before us, we have to earn it. we will not do that if we are tearing each other apart. we have to stop being blinded by anger. i have always believed we are strongest when we are one america. rich, poor, middle class, black, white, straight, folks like my family and yours that came to the country with the dream of new immigrants arriving today. one america. we are all in this together. everybody does their fair share and we can argue what that share is. that is the difference in the parties. laj, we have to move beyond where we are today. let me conclude by saying i ran
for the united states sen ate a a 29-year-old kid for two reasons. i came out of the civil rights movement. i was just a kid in a segregated state that thought it was wrong and got engaged in high school and there wasn't anything heroic about it. sit-ins and desegregated restaurants. but i came because i disagreed with quite frankly almost all the old segregationists were democrats when i got there in 1973. the judiciary committee was strong thurman. i served with him for, i think, 28 years. he actually became friends.
if you listen, if you try to understand what another geographic area is going through, it can actually change you. when thurman left he voted for the extension of the voting rights act and he had a higher percentage of african-american in his staff including teddy kennedy. didn't make up for his past sins but there was change. on his 100 birth hp day i got a call from nancy thurman, she called and said joe in her southern accent. she said i am here with strong's doctor. he asked if i would come out and do you a favor. i said sure, nancy, anything at all. she said joe, he wants you to do his euloy.
i did it and i was honest and didn't say anything i didn't believe. i started off looking up at heaven saying grandfather finnegan, forgive me what i am about to do. with all kidding aside, if you look hard enough, you can even find a possibility of some agreement and change in people with the most extreme views. last night we heard talk about bipartisanship. last night we heard an address that was much more presidential in tone than anything we have heard before. last night, we heard a lot about how we will continue to disagree. but there was talk of biparti n bipartisanship. but as the old saying goes the proof of the putting.
[inaudible conversations] >> coming up a little later tonight, washington press club foundation 73rd annual congressional dinner. two members of congress will address the gathering. soke senator tim scott and louisiana congressman cedrick richmond. that starts at 9:05 eastern and you can see it here live on c-span2.
earlier today, the senate confirmed ryan zinke for interior. we are expecting a vote on dr. carson tomorrow morning live here on c-span2. right now, senator brown on dr. carson's nomination. >> rising in support of dr. carson for secretary of housing and urban development. but i can't resist -- when i listen to my friends senator cornyn and i like and respect him. i mean that. it is always said here but i actually do. i am amused by the term of structionism when this president sat a hundred yards down the hall speaking last night and still hasn't put any legislative